For a long time it was believed that the brain was the boss of the heart. But that's a misconception.
Recent scientific research has revealed that there’s a two-way conversation going on between the heart and mind, and the heart actually sends much more information to the brain than the other way around. We need to rethink the relationship between these two organs to understand what is really going on.
How is this dynamic duo interacting, and how does it affect your health when they work together in harmony?
Conversations Between the Heart and Mind
Before the brain even comes into existence, the heart is beating. So it makes sense that the heart, not the brain, is the original center of power in the human body. The heart talks to the brain through four main “languages”:
The heart produces as much of the hormone oxytocin (a hormone released during bonding and sexual intimacy) as the brain does. Oxytocin acts like a ‘master’ hormone, overriding stress hormones to help you feel connected and calm.
When you check your pulse on your wrist or anywhere else on your body, the pressure wave creating it is also being picked up by the cells of your brain.
Every single time your heart beats, a measurable magnetic field is produced that communicates with all the cells in your body, as well as the magnetic fields emanating from the people around you! This is also known as ‘cardio-electromagnetic communication’ (meaning the electrical and magnetic force generated by the heart.)
Amazingly, the heart’s magnetic field is over 100 times stronger than the magnetic field produced by the brain!
The heart has its own nervous system containing around 40,000 neurons that communicate information via electrical signals to the brain. It’s thought that this neurological connection between the heart and brain plays a key role in memory.
These four methods of communication amount to a large volume of information (biochemical, biophysical, energetic, and neurological) being sent from the heart to the brain. In fact, up to 90% of the neural pathways in the vagus nerve (the information superhighway of the nervous system) travel from the body to the brain.
The body is constantly telling the brain what is going on, then the brain interprets (applies meaning) to the data. A huge amount of this data comes from the heart and its surrounding blood vessels.
This means that a lot of this two-way communication comes from the heart and goes to the brain. This is supported by research on intuition, by the HeartMath institute, indicating that the heart is aware of oncoming events a few milliseconds before the brain is! 
The Benefits of Harmony Between Heart & Brain
When we experience stress or negative emotions like anger, sadness, or guilt, our nervous systems become unbalanced, and our heart rhythms become disjointed and disorganized. This impact can be measured with a standard heart rate monitor (or even with your fingers checking your pulse).
On the other hand, positive emotions like love, compassion, forgiveness, appreciation, and kindness create harmony in the nervous system and coherence in electrical communication and heartbeat. The result is that stress is decreased while mental clarity is increased.
Other benefits include lowered blood pressure, a more balanced hormonal system, improved immune system function, better memory, enhanced decision-making ability, calm and optimistic thinking, increased compassion towards others, and heightened athletic performance. That’s a huge set of benefits from letting your heart lead with loving and positive emotions.
It’s not just you that’s affected by having a harmonious connection between the heart and brain; when your heart, nervous system, and brain are working in harmony, the magnetic field you produce has the power to positively influence other people too. It can be felt up to 3 feet away, and the more harmonious your heart rate and nervous system the wider this field extends.
The coherent information from your heart is delivered electromagnetically to the electromagnetic fields of the people close to you, which is picked up by their nervous system, heart, and brain. When a large group of people experiencing ‘heart-centered coherence’ gather together, it has the potential to benefit huge numbers of people!
Heart-Centered Coherence Around the World
Throughout human history, diverse and far-flung cultures had knowledge and wisdom of the heart and its profound power.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the heart is the organ that rules over all other organs and corresponds with the element of fire.
In ancient Egypt (Khemet) it was widely acknowledged that the heart, not the brain, was the source of wisdom. When someone died, it was believed that their heart was weighed on a balancing scale against a feather, and if it was lighter than the feather they would graduate to the afterlife.
The philosopher Aristotle taught that the heart was the source of human intelligence, not the brain.
The Vedic literature of India describes the heart as the home of the soul and the secrets of the universe. Ayurvedic doctors use the pulse to detect subtle imbalances that have the potential to create disease.
In Japanese, the word Kokoro means both “mind” and “heart,” and describes a person’s thoughts, feelings, experiences, and will.
3 Ways to Enhance Heart-Brain Coherence
The following tools create deep heart-brain coherence and you can begin practicing them at home straight away.
Appreciation for the good things in life increases the coherence of your heart, which has a full-body impact via your nervous system and brain. It’s as simple as that!
Focus on all the good things you have going for you, and if you struggle start with the fundamentals you do have; a roof over your head, food in your belly, the love of friends and family.
Expressing gratitude feels good and this feeling radiates through your entire system. The more you look for things to be grateful for, the more you notice even more things to be grateful for. With enough practice, you rewire the neural pathways of your heart and brain to become automatically accustomed to expressing appreciation.
Dedicate time for appreciation, for example, 5 minutes in the evening before bed, or when you wake, or during the commute to work. If you spend just 5 minutes a day actively looking for things to be grateful for, that’s 35 minutes a week and 1,820 minutes a year(!) of feel-good appreciation for heart and mind.
2. Become More Aware of Your Heart
The simple act of sitting quietly and placing your hand over your heart brings greater awareness to your emotional state and can increase the coherence between your heart, emotional state, nervous system, and brain! Attention creates connection.
Holding onto grudges does more to damage us and our heart-brain coherence than it does to the person we hold the grudge against.
When you forgive, you don’t necessarily have to excuse any wrongdoings against you, but you do let go of their power over you. It’s not about letting the person who’s wronged you off the hook, it’s about reclaiming the energy you’ve spent holding onto a grudge, and more of your personal power along with it.
Ultimately, it’s only you who suffers from discord between heart and brain when you don’t forgive others. We’re all fallible people who have hurt someone else at some point. It’s not always easy, but it is always rewarding to forgive.
Be the bigger person and choose tolerance over troublesomeness. Instead of seeing forgiveness as a way of accommodating bad behavior from others, see it as a way to increase your heart-brain coherence, making you a better person all around. That way, you'll be in a stronger, more centered position to deal with problems next time around.
Ready for a Change of Heart?
The heart has a starring role in collaboration with the brain and the entire body! It communicates with the brain in four main ways: biochemically (using hormones), biophysically (using blood flow), energetically (using electromagnetic fields), and neurologically (using the nervous system).
Increasing the coherence between the brain and the heart has deep and lasting benefits, including lowered blood pressure and stress levels, and increased memory, concentration, immune system function, athletic ability, and compassion. It can also improve the heart-brain coherence of the people around you!
Three simple ways to achieve this that you can try right now are with appreciation, becoming more aware of your heart, and forgiveness.
Heart-Brain coherence is an overlooked and underappreciated aspect of our health. When the rhythms of the heart and brain align we’re able to be better, stronger, and more balanced versions of ourselves. Take care of your heart, and your brain will follow.
 McCraty, R., M. Atkinson, and R.T. Bradley, Electrophysiological evidence of intuition: Part 1. The surprising role of the heart. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2004. 10(1): p. 133-143.